Sewing a dress one evening this week, I was reminded of Isaiah 53:5 –
“But He was wounded for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”
The stripes on my dress are just material, but the stripes that Jesus bears are much more. Isaiah 53 gives a beautiful, raw description of Jesus, the Messiah – His suffering, His sorrows, and yet, His victory. It shows us the depth of love and compassion that Jesus has for the world that He persevered so much in order to justify us. Look at how Isaiah describes Him.
He begins – “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The report that Isaiah and the prophets give is true – it is the account of the Messiah. Yet we know that many in Jesus’ day, and many today do not believe it. The arm of the Lord is mighty, glorious and outstretched to save people. If we read through passages that speak about the “arm of the Lord”, we can see that it is often used to describe God’s active works in strengthening the weak, saving His people in the midst of battle, scattering His enemies, and redeeming us into His promise. Has the arm of the Lord been revealed to us?
Next, we see that Jesus is given no “form or comeliness… no beauty that we should desire Him.” At the same time, the Bible is inundated with descriptions of the majesty and beauty of the Lord. How then, can it be that Isaiah says He has no beauty here? When we look at the Hebrew for “form”, “comeliness” and “beauty” as used in this passage, we see that they describe an outward splendor and handsomeness. There was nothing physically stunning about Christ to draw the world’s attention to Him. Instead, the beauty and glory of Christ is unveiled by a desire to seek after Him. Isaiah writes,
“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.” – [Isaiah 53:2]
There is beauty in the tenderness of Christ’s heart, blossoming in the presence of God, reaching up to bridge the gap sin created between men and God. There is splendor in the hope of His appearing, even in those times when we can see no clear future, when we are lost. The beauty in Christ is not merely how the earth sees beauty, it is the glory of God.
Christ came to save mankind, yet He is “despised and rejected by men.” The very people Jesus longed to redeem and reunite with the Father despised Him. We reject Him at times, and yet He still loves us. No wonder Isaiah calls Him “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” We will all experience some sort of grief during our lives, but no matter what sorrow we face, or what rejection we endure, we can rest assured that Jesus understands and will see us through.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” – [Isaiah 53:4]
He is “smitten by God and afflicted.” Remember that moment in the garden, when Jesus’ tears were as blood. He knew what lay before Him at the cross – the wrath of God laid upon Him, the face of the Father turned away for that moment, the weight of sin on Him. Jesus knew a greater suffering that we could imagine. The Son of God was afflicted by the Father, and yet willingly submitted to the Father’s will because He knew that in this, salvation would come to all men.
Despite all this, Christ conquers all and sees the “labour of His soul.” Isaiah describes how Jesus’ soul was made “an offering for sin”. Yet, He “shall see His seed” – all those who enter the Kingdom of Heaven through the blood of Christ, and He “shall prolong His days” – in eternity with the Father. The labour of His soul is that Christ gave Himself as an offering for all sin. His reward is that many are justified since Jesus is able to bear all our iniquities and make intercession for us.
Christ suffered at the cross, the stripes of the whip across His back, His nail pierced hands, the crown of thorns upon His head. He died, but rose again three days later, having accomplished the task the Father gave Him. Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, and the Lamb of God, bore the wrath of God for the sins of all people, and overcame the grave. Because of this, He has made a way for us to be reunited in intimate relationship with God the Father. By His stripes, we have been healed!